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The application of metabolomics in multi-centre studies is increasing. The aim of the present study was to assess the effects of geographical location on the metabolic profiles of individuals with the metabolic syndrome. Blood and urine samples were collected from 219 adults from seven European centres participating in the LIPGENE project (Diet, genomics and the metabolic syndrome: an integrated nutrition, agro-food, social and economic analysis). Nutrient intakes, BMI, waist:hip ratio, blood pressure, and plasma glucose, insulin and blood lipid levels were assessed. Plasma fatty acid levels and urine were assessed using a metabolomic technique. The separation of three European geographical groups (NW, northwest; NE, northeast; SW, southwest) was identified using partial least-squares discriminant analysis models for urine (R2X: 0·33, Q2: 0·39) and plasma fatty acid (R2X: 0·32, Q2: 0·60) data. The NW group was characterised by higher levels of urinary hippurate and N-methylnicotinate. The NE group was characterised by higher levels of urinary creatine and citrate and plasma EPA (20 : 5 n-3). The SW group was characterised by higher levels of urinary trimethylamine oxide and lower levels of plasma EPA. The indicators of metabolic health appeared to be consistent across the groups. The SW group had higher intakes of total fat and MUFA compared with both the NW and NE groups (P≤ 0·001). The NE group had higher intakes of fibre and n-3 and n-6 fatty acids compared with both the NW and SW groups (all P< 0·001). It is likely that differences in dietary intakes contributed to the separation of the three groups. Evaluation of geographical factors including diet should be considered in the interpretation of metabolomic data from multi-centre studies.
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